Australia's chairman of selectors George Bailey has confirmed that Steve Smith will not feature in the starting XI for the Aussies in their first game of the T20 World Cup against New Zealand on Saturday, with Tim David expected to take the 33-year-old’s spot in the line-up.
Smith was a part of Australia’s T20WC-winning campaign in 2021, but the right-hander has had a torrid time in the shortest format since then, averaging 20.14 while striking at 120.51. In UAE, the Kangaroos deployed Smith as a ‘collapse-stopper’, but a move away from that strategy has seen them instead lean towards Tim David, who’s put up irresistible numbers in the shortest format in the past 18 months.
Through their selections in the series against England, Australia hinted at favoring David, but now, days ahead of their T20WC opener against the Kiwis, Bailey has confirmed that Smith does not have a role in the starting XI.
"I think all the members of our 15 have a role to play but I don't think that will be starting in the XI for Steve," Bailey said, reported cricket.com.au.
"I think that should we need a role from him at some stage, then absolutely."
Bailey confirmed that Warner, who sat out the warm-up match against India due to a stiff neck, has recovered and will feature against the Black Caps, and attested that Marsh is ‘tracking well’ in terms of his bowling.
Marsh, all summer, has played as a specialist batter due to an ankle strain, and Bailey said that the all-rounder should start bowling again pretty soon. The 40-year-old, however, asserted that with Marsh, the Kangaroos will tread with caution.
"He is tracking well. I don't think it is any secret that our allrounders are an important part of our structure," Bailey said.
"I think he bowled 20 to 30 balls with pretty good intensity in the nets yesterday.
"I think he has hit all the markers that he wanted to but I think given the importance of that (allrounder) structure it is not something we wanted to risk too early but I fully expect that Mitch will be available and ready to go, whether that is Saturday or game two."
Defending champions Australia will kick-start their T20WC 2022 campaign against New Zealand at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Saturday, October 22.